(038) João Vasco Paiva
'Aquatopia', Group Exhibition
The Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Manchester, UK, [05.07.18 - 07.10.18]
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‘Home 2.0’ (2018) is an installation by João Vasco Paiva stretching across the rooftop of Bold Tendencies, a converted car park in Peckham, London overlooking the urban skyline, its varying states of historicity and construction populating the distance. Selected as one of the organisation’s 2018 art commissions focusing on ecology, ‘Home 2.0’ is a meditation on mankind and the trappings of our evolutionary paradigm. From the exterior, it resembles a derelict one storey abode typical of the south of Europe, its skeletal outlines jutting at varying levels, creating a structure that is both architecture and landscape. Weaving inside and viewed from above one remarks that the interior references a maze, ‘Home 2.0’ existing as the fruit of organic design, as the first inhabited areas were before urban planning. Composed of cob block and organic material, the structure borrows the vernacular of practices common in different geographies, from the United Kingdom, to Central America, North Africa and East Asia, whilst slight revelations of reused plastic debris point to humanity’s own hand in the creation and evolution of matter.
Adapting the lexicon of archaic agglomerations of houses, old villages or parts of towns sharing natural spatial distributions, ‘Home 2.0’ points to how we have not evolved much, physically, in the last 200,000 years. Whether perceived as a ruin or an unfinished construction, or a ruin of an unfinished construction, Paiva nods to humanity’s repeated efforts for domestic space, to create a home, shelter, but equally how its existence or ruin makes the cityscape, whether a place in economic prosperity, financial crisis or struck by war. Via this oscillating constant, the installation creates ground to identify how we have developed, primarily, intellectually: how we think, what we’ve created, discovered, how we extend our own evolution but equally carry responsibility for our impact. ‘Home 2.0’ points to a primordial past, to a violent present, and to a not so unimaginable future – to both the ephemerality and permanence of form.
In approaching the structure it further reveals itself, the brushed surfaces giving way to slithers of straw, pebbles, rock. In parts there are shards of plastic, a nod to our own creations and subsequent waste, but equally how it can be regenerated, reused. Casting different shadows throughout the day depending on the position of the sun, the structure shifts in zones of warmth, tonality, adapting to its environment, taking on a presence and personality of its own; sound is slightly muffled, channelled by the walls and passages. ‘Home 2.0’ in its height and physical properties surrounds the viewer in a manner that is at once protecting, intriguing and isolating from external stimuli – a cocooned encounter. Moving through there is a sense of suspension, a sensed meeting with our future archeology, as if one is uncovering or indeed discovering an edifice of the past that references in its intrinsic granular properties the current traces we will leave.
‘Home 2.0’ is at once a comment on the universality of building shelter as well as a reminder on the inevitability of destruction and decay. It is about the act of ‘making’: how man and earth come together to construct, but equally how man-made elements are part of our creations and indicators of our labour. Crucially, through its limited physical existence, it acknowledges cyclicality, a matter of coming and going, both in terms of topographic existence but also human existence, whilst hinting to the importance of ‘sense’, a property that outlives the structure itself – an impermanent permanence.
João Vasco Paiva (b.1979, Coimbra, Portugal) is a Hong Kong and Lisbon-based artist who observes the complex and continuously shifting characteristics of objects and spaces. Interested in semantics – the visual language each structure, perimeter and component may possess – Paiva examines the particular lexicon of constructed, detruded or neglected units, systematically documenting, analysing and abstracting them to compose a process-driven composition that is simultaneously an artwork. At the heart of Paiva’s practice is an interest in deciphering the constructed sum of human activities, and using modes of production and fabrication to peel the intricate layers that comprise the structures of contemporary life.
Created in partnership with Bold Tendencies and estudio b:
The rooftop spaces at Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park are home to not-for-profit organisation Bold Tendencies which is unique in terms of the rich mix of what it does, and where and how it does it. For more than a decade Bold Tendencies has transformed its car park home with a programme of contemporary art, orchestral music (hosting the BBC Proms with The Multi-Story Orchestra in 2016 and 2017), opera and architectural projects including Frank’s Cafe and the Straw Auditorium designed by Practice Architecture, Simon Whybray’s pink staircase and Cooke Fawcett’s Peckham Observatory. Alongside its commissioning programme Bold Tendencies animates its programme and the site for schools, families and the neighbourhood through standalone education and community initiatives that take culture and civic values seriously. With immersive public spaces and spectacular views across London, the project has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors so far.
estudio b is an experimental architecture and design practice interested in making high quality, materially conscious and socially engaged spaces. The studio is fascinated by an open-ended architecture and the potential this opens for making both buildings and places for people to occupy freely. This stems from an obsession with the human experience and an aim to create spaces that can improve the quality of the lives of people who use them. They have experience of doing this in both temporary and permanent commissions within the arts, fashion, retail and education sectors, through work that allows for performance and rituals to occur. The work of the studio is characterised by rich materials and forms that respond to a place and express a language whose physical presence has a direct emotional effect. For the practice, materiality and craft is about a way of employing innovative solutions to create elegant and thought provoking work that can carry meaning to different people. They enjoy making, which takes into account material and physical construction but also communities and urban environments. The studio is directed by Benni Allan, who brings a depth of knowledge of construction and making across various disciplines. estudio b was commissioned to work with João to help realise the installation from his original concept, which included research into cob structures and the design of the walls, sourcing materials and monitoring the construction, as well as providing support to ensure the project worked both practically and conceptually.
'Both Sides Now II – It was the best of times, it was the worst of time', Group Exhibition
Shanghai: Chronus Art Center, Ray Art Center; Hong Kong: chi K11 art space, Connecting Spaces, British Council; Leicester: Phoenix; Hastings: Electric Palace Cinema; Brighton: Fabrica; Portsmouth: Aspex Gallery; London: ICA; Manchester: HOME, [07.07.15 - 22.10.15]
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